It's day two for HealthSourceRI.com, Rhode Island's newly launched online marketplace for health insurance under Obamacare.
And while there's lots that looks good and seems quite intuitive, it's still a little glitchy. You might have some trouble actually completing the process to sign up for health insurance today if you go online. But you can still call or visit a walk-in center.
(Note: I'm back from maternity leave. Thanks to my RIPR colleagues for their great work covering health care while I was out taking care of my new little boy, Magnus.)
I tried it out this morning and here's what I found: everything worked great until the part of the sign up process when you have to confirm your identity. At that point I got a message on the screen asking me to phone the call center with a reference code. I tried that, and a very friendly customer service rep told me they weren’t using that method anymore. But the new method--scanning in a picture of my ID and uploading it to the site - wasn’t quite working either. Could I, she asked, mail or bring in a copy of my ID to one of the walk-in centers? The call center rep said the web site’s problems had to do with the number of people trying to use it at once. So, a dead end, unless I wanted to wait for snail mail or drive over to sign up in person. Frustrating, but not unexpected for a huge and complicated new system.
Still, the part of the web site that tells you what your health plan choices are seems to be working fine. Plug in your age and income, and you get a list of options that includes the monthly cost, deductible, and lots of other details. If you can't sign up for a plan today, you could at least find out what your options are, how much they'll cost, and whether you'll qualify for a subsidy to help you pay for them. And then try again tomorrow.
Around the country, at least according to their Twitter feeds, other states' exchanges are also drawing lots of visitors and working through the technical hiccups.
The bottom line on healthsourceri.com: don't give up. Let them work the glitches out and try again in a day or so. Alternatively, you could always call 1-855-840-HSRI (4774) or visit the Contact Center at 70 Royal Little Drive in Providence to enroll or talk to an expert.
Meanwhile, here are a few resources to help you prepare for enrollment or determine how Obamacare and the online exchanges affect you.
- If you're uninsured, or your employer's insurance costs more than 9.5% of your income, check out your new health insurance options on Rhode Island's online health insurance marketplace, HealthSource RI
- Three things you'll want to know before buying a plan, from Kaiser Health News
- Seven facts about who's eligible and what you get under Obamacare, also from Kaiser Health News
- FAQs for immigrants, same sex couples, tobacco users, people with variable incomes and more, also from Kaiser Health News
- What veterans need to know about Obamacare, from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services
- What you need to know about Medicaid and Obamacare, including new eligibility requirements, from RI's Executive Office of Health and Human Services